Having a job is an integral part of the college experience. Whether it’s helping out with Freshman registration or working fast-food, the college job is something that is often forgotten about when writing a resume. After all, what employer cares that you worked for McDonald’s for 6 years? A lot.
You can get a lot out of any job, regardless of how it fits in with what you want to do. The first step is to stop thinking of it as a dead-end job. There are plenty of people that start out as cashiers and end up moving to management. You may just fall into something that you really like to do! Even if you know you’re never going to end up in that field, you have the experience of working. You can build a lot of skills through working almost any job that can apply to other jobs you’ll have in the future. These skills are called transferable skills.
There are ways to get more out of a part-time job than those skills too. You could find a job that is related to either what you want to do, or what you like to do. There are stories all over the place about cashiers that have become big people in the companies they worked for. So if you know where you want to be, try to find a starter job there. Alternatively, integrate your hobby. If you like to knit, get a job at a fabric store. You’ll like it more and want to get more involved.
Check out this post that Taylor wrote about highlighting your skills on your resume.
Speaking of getting more involved:
Ask for more! Take on tasks that aren’t a part of your everyday job, but you notice need to get done. Ask for more responsibility. Even if your job is very defined, nobody says you can’t do the very best at what you are assigned, even if none of your coworkers do. And get along with your coworkers and supervisors. They can be good references, or useful for networking. It also makes working so much easier if you enjoy the people you’re working with.
Don’t forget to play up the skills and experiences you’re making on the job. When you get to an interview for your first big-kid job after school (or an internship while you’re here), don’t stumble over your 4 years as a waiter or cashier. Mention the skills you’ve gained on your resume and bring them up in the interview. When your interviewer asks you to name a time when you’ve “solved a problem” or “worked in a group,” answer it! Use your time working to give you those anecdotes that make you feel so much better about your answers, and help you stand out in an interview. Even just having it on your resume can help. You were working and going to school. That takes a lot of effort and dedication.
Lastly, be proud! Enjoy what you’re doing as much as you can, and don’t let yourself be embarrassed. It’s an important step, and doing it while in school takes a lot of, well, work.